SEOUL, Aug. 14 (Xinhua) -- South Korean President Park Geun-hye said on Thursday that the Democratic People's Republic of Korea ( DPRK) should first stop developing nuclear weapons to achieve peace and reunification on the Korean peninsula.
Park made the comments when she delivered her message at the presidential office jointly with Pope Francis, who came here earlier in the day for his five-day tour.
"For unification, North Korea's nuclear development must be stopped. A unified Korean peninsula without nuclear weapons is an aspiration of the entire world, I believe," said the president.
The 1950-53 Korean War and the divided peninsula have caused great sufferings to all Koreans, Park said, noting that the fratricidal war has prevented some 70,000 people in South Korea alone from meeting their long-lost relatives.
Seoul proposed to Pyongyang on Monday to hold senior-level inter-Korean talks next week to discuss the reunion of separated families. The DPRK has yet to respond to the proposal.
Park said it is high time to overcome the painful history and open a new era of reconciliation and reunification on the Korean peninsula, adding that South Korea has made all-out efforts to follow the path of peace and reconciliation, which is away from the nuclear threats and war.
The president said the pope's visit to Seoul will contribute to the opening of the unification era on the peninsula, noting that his selection of South Korea as his first Asian destination reflects his willingness to deliver a message of peace and reconciliation on the peninsula.
The pope said he is encouraging efforts to achieve reconciliation and stability on the peninsula, noting that it will be a unique and sure path to peaceful peninsula.
He said the Korean peninsula's pursuit of peace will influence stability of the entire world, stressing the significance of diplomacy, which he claimed is based on endlessly listening to its counterparty, not on reckless criticism and armed protests.
During his stay, the pope will celebrate several Masses, meeting with the underprivileged, the disabled and those suffering from social disputes. He will also meet with women forced into sex slavery for the Japanese military brothels during World War .